North Vietnam is known for being rugged, beautiful and full of off-the-beaten-track charm. Here are our 10 best hiking trails in north Vietnam.
1. Sky Gate
This hike outside of Sapa town takes you to the highest road in Vietnam. Although the climb can be steep in places, the reward is in the view at the end, described as the Sky Gate or the Roof of Indochina. This is one hiking trail that will take your breath away for all the right reasons.
2. Muong Hoa Valley
This hike in the foothills of the mountains near Sapa takes in rice paddies, verdant scenery and some villages home to ethnic communities, including Ta Van Village and Ho Village. This is a gentle hike, with the only uphill section at the end to return to Sapa.
3. Ham Rong
This trail on the outskirts of Sapa centres on the mountain of Ham Rong, but despite this, it’s still possible to undertake a hike that isn’t too steep or gruelling. The scenery is a combination of terraced agricultural land, pleasant greenery and bright flowers, with views of the mountains beyond.
4. Cao Bang
This province on the border with China attracts keen hikers who like to experience a diversity of geography on their walks. Cao Bang offers huge karst mountains, deep gorges and everything in between. Hikes also take in pretty rice paddies and stunning waterfalls, including the Ban Gioc waterfall, which is literally along the Vietnam-China border.
5. Cat Cat Village
This hiking trail from Sapa leads to Cat Cat Village, home to the ethnic Black H’mong people. The locals are welcoming to visitors and enjoy describing their traditions and way of life. This is also a village where traditional clothing is made and it’s possible to watch part of the process.
6. Thac Bac Waterfall
This hike travels from Sapa to the gorgeous Thac Bac Waterfall, which translates to mean ‘Silver Falls’. A trek that begins with a path through jungle and mountain scenery is rewarded with the sight of these 200-metre falls, which form part of many local legends.
7. Ta Phin
This locality is home to a number of ethnic hill tribes including the Black H’mong and Red Dzao people. Just a 30 minute walk from Sapa through rice paddies and along mountain peaks, this is a great way to take in a number of local cultures in just one day.
8. Hoang Lien National Park
This small national park in the far north of Vietnam is a wonderful place to trek for its bamboo forests, natural streams, terraced rice fields and the village of Giang Ta Chai, home to the Black H’mong people. As well as seeing the local way of life in the village, it’s possible to see how this ethnic tribe make their clothes and experience the local market.
9. Lao Cai Village
This hiking trail takes in one of the largest valleys in the whole of Vietnam, offering far reaching views of rice paddies and pristine mountain scenery beyond. The village of Lao Cai is another Black H’mong village where it’s possible to witness their daily lives and traditional clothes-making techniques.
10. Mai Chu
This town in the north west of Vietnam is surrounded by rice paddies and small villages that show off a real slice of rural Vietnamese life. There is an abundance of trails and well-defined paths in this area, meaning hikers of all abilities can choose a route that suits them.
Avid trekkers looking for a hiking trail in north Vietnam can take their pick from mountain peak trails to gorges and cultural village stops to the world’s natural phenomena.